Today my mind has been blown by a trip to Standfast & Barracks fabric factory. It's in Lancaster and it's the sister company of my wallpaper factory.
A very nice man called Craig gave me a thoroughly impassioned tour of the factory taking me on the journey that each fabric makes around the factory from when it arrives in it's raw state to when it is wrapped on a roll ready to be sent out into the world.
I had no idea that every length of cloth is 'singed and de-sized' to remove lumps, bumps and loose fibres that would mess up the printing process.
There's real fire in there!
Then it dipped in this solution and wrapped up in plastic on a rotating roll, like a hog on a spit, where it soaks and fizzes until it's ready for the next part of the process.
Then it goes in this big machine to scour or bleach the cloth.
more fire in this one too!
How's this for a control panel! In the olden days (the factory is 90 years old) somebody would have the job of checking the weft of the fabric as it moves through the machines to make sure it stays level and straight which is crucial when printing the designs.
Nowadays it is done with this machine which keeps an eye on it and straightens where necessary.
I was really lucky today as I got to see just about every process in action. I have seen the most incredible fabrics coming hot off the press but couldn't photograph them for reasons of privacy. Let's just say Liberty are launching a new collection! I watched the most exquisite eight colour rotary print unfold right before my eyes with colours being siphoned out of huge vats.
They are mixed to an exact formula.
I saw the flat bed screen printers in action too. It was incredible to watch the big table top rotate while the screens went up and down and printed with automated squeegees. Ahhhh.
Regardless of the type of printing the fabrics go through more processes to fixes the molecules to the fabrics. This really makes the colours sing. We compared the before and after and it was an incredible transformation. The colours were so rich afterwards.
The digital printers are awesome too. They have special rooms of their own so they can control the temperature.
Every length of fabric is checked by eye for imperfections. What doesn't make it can often be found in their amazing factory shop!
It was an incredible place. It is such an in depth process and I am much more informed after my visit, Even if this post isn't completely accurate it gives you a rough idea of what goes on. It is a complex process with skilled people doing it. Everyone who we talked to was so passionate and excited about their part of the process and there is a friendly culture around the factory. I was made to feel very welcome. 'This is Hannah, she is a new customer...(fork lift truck behind me)..don't run her over!'
I feel 100% like I have made the right decision to put my fabric in their hands and let them work their magic.